Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Wisdom of Failure

A college professor I knew used to tsk tsk the dishonesty with which our celebrity-obsessed culture emphasizes success. We hold up one dimensional portraits of patriots, rock stars and politicians who we believe we need to mimic.

He’d cracked wise about the money wasted on self-help books and personal improvement seminars that promise to lift us beyond who we to something we’d really really like to be. We strive for the unattainable, for failure.

We spend too little time learning how to cope with failure. The closest we come is the delight we share when one of those rock stars or politicians stumbles. We need to move beyond the crass marketing of success. Failure these days is a hot commodity, and now more than ever we need coping strategies for embracing it, and a reservoir of strength to keep us from running away from it scared.

The measure of a human being isn’t their success. That’s just the stuff of obituaries. Our true character is shown in how honestly we deal with failure. Don’t blame others. Don’t pin it on bad circumstances. Face failure, as if looking into a mirror that reflects that bit of ourselves we find hardest to look at.

I’m not sure you can actually build a marketing plan around people’s aspirations to fail, but I do believe there’s a character building exercise in learning to deal with life’s let-downs.

Master Sheng-Yen says in his article “Being Natural” (Tricycle, Summer 1995):
"The objective of practice (meditation) is to be in accord with the natural way, so that your true nature can manifest itself. Practice according to the methods taught by the Buddha and do not worry about success.”

Obsession to achieve that success which lies beyond us is neurosis.
Focus on being who we are, with all our success and failures, is truly achieving that enlightenment the Buddha taught.

There’s honesty in that.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

This is the explanation our nation has been waiting for

Neo Conservative Bill Kristol says Government Health Care is the Best Health Care Available in America Today

Neo-con, Iraq War proponent, and editor of the Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol, has said it - "SINCE SOLDIERS ARE PAID LESS, ONE OF THE WAYS WE MAKE IT UP TO THEM IS TO GIVE SOLDIERS FIRST CLASS HEALTH CARE."

Kristol spilled this revelation on a recent episode of Jon Stewart's show (see full clip below). Stewart then went to raze Kristol, asking him to repeat his affirmation that the Health Care the government provides to veterans is fair superior to the "shitty insurance health care" the rest of us have. Kristol then waffled (flip flopped is another way of saying this), saying he wasn't sure if it was better, but then saying reconfirming that yes, the government plan is far superior.

Here's the clip. Check it.

Monday, August 3, 2009

What Makes Cheney Spin?

Excellent article in this week’s Time magazine about Bush’s and Cheney’s falling out in the late articles of the Bush administration about how to spin Scooter Libby a pardon for his lies to the grand jury.

Cheney was for it

Bush …, well, there’s some who say Bush felt Scooter just wasn’t sounding properly contrite. Hmm, wonder what made Georgie start looking up that word up at the end of his administration? Wonder why it doesn’t show up in any of his own post presidential talking points?

Let’s remember that Scooter was convicted of lying to a grand jury in an effort to foil an investigation about the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. The Time article maintains that the lie was about Cheney’s direct involvement in the outing. They needed Scooter’s confirmation to bring the case forward, but three times Scooter lied to them saying that, despite his vivid recall of conversations with Tim Russert and others, he had no recall of discussions with Cheney. For Cheney to keep the lid down on the cover-up, he now needed a gripe-less Scooter free and untainted.

But Bush refused to give the pardon, despite all Cheney’s nagging. There they were at the end of a failed presidency with Bush assuming the Herbert Hoover mantel, and he must have been considering why after all of Cheney’s lies and deceptions should he bother helping the schmoe out in his moment of desperation. Let Cheney dangle. Even Bush had to realize that his eight years in office had been the equivalent of the American Dark Ages, and, dagnabit, it was all because that slick talking Dick had wangled little Georgie into one too many bad decisions.

Even after Bush (the decider) had waffled for weeks and then finally decided, Cheney continued to moan. He said Bush’s ultra successful War on Terror would be viewed as a failure if they “left a man on the battlefield.” That’s macho-code for “even though we’ve never been to war ourselves, we can’t leave poor Scooter out there languishing.”

Wonder why Cheney never gave the same thought to the thousands of actual soldiers he left on the battlefield, or to Valerie Plame and the undercover associates who worked with her that he exposed, or to the sacrifice he made of Pvts Lynndie England and Charles Grainer for carrying out his and Rumsfeld’s torture orders.

And why didn’t it ever occur to Cheney that if he really wanted to reward Libby for taking the fall on the Vice President’s behalf, all he need do is stand up and tell the truth himself – Yes, I ordered the outing of a CIA operative for political reasons. And if any son or daughter of America who is serving their country ever tries crossing me, I’ll out them as well.